Friday, May 4, 2012

Saxby Smart in the Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane and Other Case Files

Saxby Smart in the Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane and Other Case Files (Saxby Smart #2)
Simon Cheshire, illustrated by R.W. Alley
Roaring Brook Press, 2008
$15.99, Hardcover
March 10th, 2012

Genre: Mystery
Age: 8+
Description: Saxby Smart is back with another casebook of files. In this volume he solves the “Tomb of Death” in which a classmate’s older brother’s highly valuable first issue of The Tomb of Death comic book goes missing. In “Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane” Saxby’s classmate Jack’s parents purchasing the house called “Horror House” and finding a supposed treasure map in the walls for a buried treasure on the grounds. Problem is that the treasure map is coded. In “Fangs of the Dragon” a sixth grade teacher approaches Saxby when she recently discovered that the houses of many of her students all were recently broken into—it appears that no one actually stole anything but there were signs that someone was in these houses.  Can Saxby find the link that connects these “robberies” together?
Opinion: I love Saxby Smart! Once again, in three connected stories of about six to seven chapters, Saxby solves some mysteries. The first story is by far the strongest. It will appeal to mystery fans and comic book fans. It gets a lot of comic book history correct as it actually shares some comic book collecting facts. Clearly Tomb of Death is a play on the old EC Comics (and personal favorites of mine) stories found in Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear. The second story has a positive happy outcome but might loose readers as the clues are some pretty tough mathematical concepts—so they are hard to solve on one’s own. The last story is so-so and brings back into play Saxby’s archnemisis—Harry Lovecraft. Once again, Saxby actually encourages the readers’ to participate. The author makes sure that all the clues Saxby needs to solve a case are presented in the story so readers get a chance to solve the mystery too. Saxby kind of addresses the reader as his assistant (his Watson if you may). There are little moments throughout each story when Saxby is reviewing some facts and he’ll pause and say something like “I’ve got it! But how do I know this?” and an illustration of question marks will address the reader and ask if they’ve figured it out too so it gives readers a place to pause, think about what’s happened, propose a hypothesis, and then continue reading to see if they figured it out too.

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